One of my very favourite writers on Myanmar politics and society is Thomas Kean, the editor of the English language edition of The Myanmar Times. He’s young and Australian, but already an old-hand in the Myanmar media game. The good folks at Inside Story have published his latest piece, a deep and powerful set of reflections garnered during President Barack Obama’s brief visit to Yangon. Kean’s full write-up, focussed on reactions in Naypyidaw, is available here.
A key extract tells us that:
When I asked MPs, government officials and journalists in Naypyidaw which aspect of the president’s speech most resonated, each person had a different answer: for one, it was the fact that he emphasised how, although he is president of the most powerful country in the world, he is not above the law; for another, it was his citing of Franklin Roosevelt’s four “fundamental freedoms,” freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear; for others it was his insistence that one political prisoner is one too many, or his focus on education and the seemingly imminent reopening of Yangon University. And for some, no single point stood out. “I only have one word to say about his whole visit: ‘wow,’” was how Win Htein, the National League for Democracy representative from Meiktila, described it to me.
And, in a further sign of the times, I am delighted that Kean can now write all of his pieces under his own name. When people start to work through his back catalogue, they will see that he deserves plenty of credit for his pseudonymnous and anonymous work too.